Roman Times and Events: Those about to Die, Special Terms

(words which identify Roman terms referring to people and other topics; especially, those appearing in Those about to Die)

anabata (s), anabatae (pl)
A gladiator, or gladiators, who wore a helmet without any openings for the eyes.

Those who fought without the ability to see anything.

Someone who is hoodwinked or who exists in the dark or is virtually blind to the realities of a situation.
A heavy war engine for hurling large stones and other missiles.
1. Animal fighters, or victims executed by animals, in the Roman circuses.
2. Among Ancient Romans, those who went into combat with beasts, or were exposed to them with the purpose of being killed.

There were two types of bestiarii

There were two categories of bestiarii: the first were those condemned to death by the beasts and the second were those who faced them voluntarily as fighters for entertainment purposes.

Although bestiarii (beast fighters) and venatores (hunters) both fought wild animals, there were differences. The bestiarii often were condemned criminals, or prisoners of war; who had little chance against the animals they fought (Seneca, De Beneficiis, II.19).

With no real training and often no defense, they were thrown to the beasts as punishment and for the spectacle of the Romans. Seneca (Epistles, LXX.20) wrote about a German prisoner, who rather than participate in such a show of bestiarii, killed himself by forcing a sponge used in the lavatory down his throat.

Another man who was taken to the morning show for punishment, nodded as if asleep and, lowering his head, thrust it between the spokes of the cart wheel, breaking his neck Seneca (Epistles, LXX.23).

Symmachus (Letters, II.46) also wrote about twenty-nine Saxon prisoners strangling one another in their cells the night before they were to appear in the arena.

Bestiarii was also the name given to those assistants who took care of the animals and goaded them into fighting or attempted to separate them from their victims. After awhile, they became more trained specialists in the handling and control of animals which were used in the circuses.

In the Satyricon (XLV), Echion complains about a particularly disappointing gladiatorial show and disparagingly remarks that he has seen bestiarii fight better.

Martial (Spectacles, XVII, XXVI) noted that Carpophorus, who was renown as a bestiarius, as having killed a bear, a lion, and a leopard. In fact, Carpophorus is said to have killed twenty wild animals in one show.

Lead balls used in knuckles of boxing gloves of fighters in the Roman circuses.

In the bow of ships the Romans had a long beam with a spike on one end and the other end was fastened to the foredeck by a heavy hinge. This was the corvus or "crow".

When the corvus was dropped on an opposing galley, the spike sank into the wood and held the two ships together. The corvus was then used as a gangplank for boarders to go aboard the other ship.

duumvir, duumviracy, duumviral, duumvirate
1. In Roman history, one of the duumviri, the general name given to pairs of co-equal magistrates and functionaries in Rome and in her coloniae and municipia.
2. In modern use, one of two colleagues in authority.
edile, aedile (s) (noun), ediles, aediles (pl)
A Roman magistrate whose chief business was to superintend public buildings of all kinds; more especially, public edifices, temples, bridges, aqueducts, markets, games, etc.: "The ediles also were responsible for the care of the highways, public places, weights and measures, etc."
faction (s) (noun), factions (pl)
1. A group of people who express shared beliefs or opinions that are different from others who are not part of the organization: The liberal faction of the political party in Sam's town got together to discuss their propositions before getting together with the other politicians.
2. A number of persons who are formed to seek some objective within a political party or a government: A faction suggests some quarrelsome dissent from the objectives pursued by those who are part of a majority of officials.
3. A literary work or film that is a mixture of fact and fiction: Some novels present history as a faction so the reader is always fascinated by the events that took place at some other time.
4. Etymology: from Latin factionem, "political party, class of people"; literally, "a making or doing", from facere, "to do".
Those who form a cohesive or contentious political group.
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1. A person, usually a professional combatant, a captive, or a slave, trained to entertain the public by engaging in mortal combat with another person, or a wild animal, in the ancient Roman arena; now more like a person engaged in a controversy or debate, especially in public; a disputant.
2. In ancient Rome, a professional fighter who fought another combatant, or a wild animal, in public entertainments which took place in an arena.

Often gladiators were criminals, or slaves, who were equipped with nets, nooses, swords, or other weapons for battle to entertain Romans in the circuses.

Relating to or resembling gladiators or their form of combat.
From gladius, sword.

Soldiers of the sand (arena), who performed for an audience as entertainment. Inherited from the Etruscans, the gladiator performed throughout Italy, including Rome.

Whether military deserters, condemned criminals, slaves, or freemen; in all cases, they were thought to be volunteers because, otherwise, they probably wouldn't be worth the expense of training in the special schools (ludi).

The gladiator could be a very profitable investment and many of them became very wealthy and were as popular as professional athletes are today.

lanista (s), lanistae (pl)
Gladiator trainer of professional gladiators in ancient Rome who fought against each other, wild animals, and condemned criminals; often to the death, for the entertainment of spectators.

These fights took place in arenas in many cities from the Roman Republic period and into the Roman Empire times.

Gladiators were trained at special schools originally owned by private citizens, but later taken over by the imperial state to prevent the build up of a private army.

Gladiators trained like true athletes, much like professional athletes do today. They received medical attention and three meals a day. It is said, that their training included learning how to use various weapons, including, of course, the sword, the war chain, the net, a trident, a dagger, and even a lasso.

Ushers who checked and made sure people were going to the right seats in the Roman circuses.
ludi publici (pl) (noun)
In Roman antiquity, ludi publici (LYOO digh PUB li sigh) were public games and spectacles, including athletic competitions, horse and chariot races, exhibitions of the arena, and theater.

"Ludi Cercenses" (sur SEN seez) were games of the Circus; "ludic scenici" (SEN i sigh) of the theater.

Some were named for particular festivals: "ludi Apollinares" (uh pol" i NAY reez), in honor of Apollo, chiefly theatrical; "ludi Romani" (roh MAY nigh), in honor of Jupiter, in September; and "ludi Megalenses" (meg" uh LEN seez), in honor of the Magna Mater, April 4 to April 10.

Roman Events: Those about to Die, Index or Table of Contents